A huge corner of the world you should be focusing on: China. As we recently detailed, Chinese travel to the Unites States continues to rise. A report by Oxford Economics for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) reveals income growth and expansion of China's middle class in recent years is making long-haul travel a common occurrence. And leisure tourism companies are expected to make up most of the market share—59 percent of Chinese travel and tourism spending is dedicated to leisure travel and is expected to reach 62 percent by 2023, according to the report.
Here is a closer look at the top Chinese travel trends that may impact your tour and activity business.
Demand for Niche Travel
Skift reports on how the fragmentation of Chinese outbound tourism and increasing demand for new experiences is encouraging tourism boards—and, perhaps, tour and activity operators—to promote more niche offerings such as experiential travel and uniquely packaged experiences. Everything from culinary tours to nature trail trekking and kayaking adventures will cater to the needs of the Chinese travelers' intent on enjoying a new adventure.
Make sure to include engaging and descriptive copy about your tours, activities, and services on your website to pique your customers' interest. Include photos and videos to enhance your descriptions and give the traveler a taste of the experience from afar as a teaser.
Rise in Independent Travelers
Approximately two-thirds of Chinese travelers prefer to travel solo, according to the 2014 hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM). This means that the majority of Chinese visitors may be looking for excursions or activities where they can experience and enjoy something new on their own.
Consider packaging tours and activities for singles or promoting ideas that would appeal to a solo traveler, such as private tours and workshops as add-ons to an activity. Use an online booking program that allows you to set up add-ons at checkout so the customer can customize their experience.
Demand for Local Experiences
The newest visa policy allows Chinese tourists to visit the U.S. multiple times over the course of a decade, which means there is no longer a need to pack in as many activities as possible in a single itinerary. Whether they will be in town for a long weekend or an entire week, these Chinese travelers are making the time to seek out authentic experiences and activities that will give them a taste of local culture.
Tour and activity operators can expand their offerings to provide more educational experiences or specialty tours that give international travelers a taste of the U.S. Whether this is in the form of a hands-on cooking class by a food-tour operator, seminars or workshops about nature and geology from a rainforest tour company, or a short movie introduction to the world of watersports and competitions from a surf-lesson company, consider some different ways to enhance the experience with an educational element.
Heavy Internet Usage
Updating your website regularly and maintaining a website with eye-catching photos, video clips, and other media may help you grab a visitor's attention. The 2014 hotels.com Chinese International Travel Monitor (CITM) also found that 53 percent of Chinese international travelers are already booking their hotel stays using a mobile app, which means many are quite comfortable making an online reservation. China's Internet population hit 618 million people by the end of 2013 alone so many are already comfortable with navigating the web for information—and possibly making travel plans along the way.
Rise of Mobile Bookings
According to TNW News, mobile Internet users increased by 80 million people year-on-year in 2012. The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) describes how mobile usage is the highest mode of Internet access for new users in China.
Tour and activity operators can cater to those tech-savvy travelers by maintaining a mobile site and offering mobile booking options using an online booking system, such as ZOZI Advance. We shared some tips on creating the ideal mobile booking experience for your customers in this article. You need to make sure each user can go through the checkout process seamlessly and prioritize the components of your mobile website to make sure it appeals to your user.
Chinese travel trends in the next decade or two will have an impact on tour and activity operators around the country. Tour and activity businesses can cater to Chinese travelers with niche experiences and by streamlining the booking process for the tech-savvy international visitor.